After slow start to season, Syracuse holds on to slim NCAA tournament hopes

first_imgAt 5-11 and 0-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, all Syracuse could really worry about was just winning one conference game.A month later, as the season draws toward its conclusion, the team has an outside shot at something that was never a thought in the beginning of October — making the NCAA tournament.The Orange reached .500 for the first time all season after its win over Boston College on Sunday. If Syracuse can defeat its last six ACC opponents, it will end the season on a 14-2 run and a 14-6 record in a competitive ACC.SU (13-13, 8-6 ACC) hosts Pittsburgh (13-14, 5-9) at 7 p.m. on Friday and Maryland (13-13, 5-9) on Sunday at 1 p.m.“I think we have to step up even more, we have to play even much better so we can finally achieve our goal,” sophomore outside hitter Silvi Uattara said. “To go to the NCAA and play there. I think that everything is just starting right now.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe six ACC teams that the Orange plays to end the year already lost to SU this season.Uattara said that she and her team want to beat its upcoming opponents not only to have a shot to make the tournament, but also to prove those wins were not a fluke.“First everybody on our team wants to prove that we didn’t win (against) those teams that we played already on luck,” Uattara said. “We want to achieve something because we’ve been practicing very hard, we’ve been waking up at 5:40 like today. We just have to win all those games.”In all of the other ACC team sports, the conference holds a championship tournament after the regular season.This type of tournament in other sports can help teams that are on the bubble of the NCAA tournament — like Syracuse — get a marquee win or two.Women’s volleyball is the lone exception. Head coach Leonid Yelin respects those who work for the ACC, but he admits a tournament would have probably helped his team’s chances this season.“Every year could be different,” Yelin said in an email to The Daily Orange. “This year it could probably help, yeah. This is not my job. This is the ACC. There are very professional people who work in the ACC. It might be different next year. It is my job to just prepare my team to play.”The Orange could use something like the ACC tournament because the team has not defeated a ranked opponent. The only time SU has played a ranked team during its current 8-2 run was when it fell to No. 18 Duke in four sets. “You never know,” middle blocker Lindsay McCabe said, “the ACC is a strong conference so they could consider more teams if we do well.”Whether the team makes the tournament or not, senior Samantha Clarey, who will be honored at Sunday’s home matchup against Maryland for senior night, is proud of how her team overcame its slow start.“I’m proud that we came together,” Clarey said. “At the beginning of the year it was kind of rough. We got together off the court and everything, but on the court there was just some chemistry missing. During the middle of the season, we found that chemistry and finally used it.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 14, 2013 at 12:00 am Contact Ryan: [email protected]last_img

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